Need for expanded opportunities for young Tibetan women
The Tibetan culture is a living, breathing, changing culture, with young women who wish to have the same opportunities as their counterparts in other parts of the world including education, travel and cross-cultural experiences. Young Tibetan women deserve the chance to be seen as part of their traditional culture and also beyond their culture, as contemporary, modern young women.
Due to the seriousness of the Tibetan refugee situation, there is a tendency among both Tibetans and the international community to assume that young Tibetan women must only be engaged in activities that are based in the traditional culture or working for the Tibetan cause.
This is a short-sighted view.
Tibetan women are like women everywhere
Tibetan women should be encouraged to demonstrate the full range of their capabilities and interests.
In the exile community, where the majority of Tibetan girls attend Tibetan-Indian schools, the opportunities for advancement are limited. As a third-world, developing country, with its own major problems, India is not the land of opportunity for Tibetan girls and young women.
The majority of Tibetan girls aspire to enter the professions of nursing, education (as teachers), or else to become office workers in the Tibetan government. A significant number, who do not have the opportunity to complete their education, end up as roadside workers selling Tibetan sweaters and other household goods, often along the major roadways of the large Indian cities, as kitchen helpers in restaurants, or as low-paid factory workers.
The Tibetan Exile Government provides some scholarships each year, which cover expenses for the first two to three years of university education in India. For those students who excel at the Bachelor of Arts level, it is possible to get government assistance to go on for a Master’s degree. Yet the number of the scholarships is limited and hence leaves little opportunity for the majority of prospective students.
Need for role models for Tibetan women
Tibetan girls are like girls everywhere; they need role models of women who have grown into skilled, educated, articulate productive members of society. At the present time, the role models for women are strong, but few. There is always the need for more women to emerge as role models for the younger generation, as spokespeople for their culture. And there is a need for these women to represent a variety of professions, attitudes, skills and interests.
Need to expand the international awareness of Tibetan culture and the Tibetan situation
It is important for Tibetans to be seen in the light of a full range of experiences in the world. There is a tendency for Tibetans to be only seen as a people that are in struggle against the Chinese, as a culture that is predominantly made up of Buddhist monks and nuns, as nomads who herd yaks. Or as people who are on pilgrimage to sacred sites or who live in caves in the mountains of Tibet.
The reality is that since 1959, over 120,000 Tibetans have escaped from Chinese-Occupied Tibet and taken up residence in other countries of the world. In these countries, they have pursued higher education (many attending universities in the United States on Fulbright Scholarships), established successful businesses, and have become professionals in a myriad of fields including law, medicine, engineering, web designing, building construction, journalism and photography.
To have international support for the plight of the Tibetan people, it is important to have many different venues to create awareness. Once we have established a Miss Tibet competition, we will be able to apply for representation in international competitions.
International competitions draw millions of viewers all over the world. To have representation in events like these, will create awareness about the Tibetan cause for a population that may not generally know about Tibet, yet which is composed of millions of men and women who could potentially be Tibet supporters.
MISS TIBET would be in an excellent position to speak about the Tibetan situation in international forums, drawing attention to the plight of the Tibetan people as well as the brilliance of the lifestyle and culture.
A Strategy: The MISS TIBET PAGEANT
Millions of people all over the world are interested in the international beauty pageants and watch to see who represents each nation. As such, the MISS TIBET BEAUTY PAGEANT will bring Tibetan culture forward in time; it will provide a contemporary forum for Tibetan girls and women. The purpose is manifold:
- To provide opportunities for education, travel and cross-cultural exchange for young Tibetan women. An orientation on Tibetan culture, history and current affairs will also be a part of the training.
- To provide a forum for young Tibetan women to display their skills and talents in the international arena.
- To create international awareness of the Tibetan traditional arts, culture and philosophy.
- To create international awareness of the contemporary life of Tibetan people living in exile.
- To draw international attention to the plight of Tibetans living under Chinese-occupied Tibet.